Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Nuts and Bolts of Nagging

Okay, so I was going to write a long, detailed piece about nagging. But who wants to read something long and detailed about nagging? No one.

Instead, I’ll give it to you straight. I’m making peace with nagging. I’ve taken a poll, and all wives nag. All mothers nag. Some more successfully than others. But no one wants to be a nag. I often catch myself doing something that’s really the duty of another member of our household simply because I’m tired of asking them to do it. But the thing is, if I continue repeating that action pattern, pretty soon EVERYTHING is mine to do.

So here’s the deal. Nagging is a good thing. But the key to successful nagging is all in the presentation – how you go about it. Timing is important. If you ask your child to do a job while they’re in the middle of an engrossing activity, they’re not going to want to do it. (This is a good reason to limit TV watching, video games, and other such distractions.) Keep your voice low when making your request. High-pitched requests are going to sound whiney and will be less effective. If your child (or husband) gives you flack, ask them when it would be a better time to do the job. Then set a timer. When it goes off, remind them of their commitment and be firm. Be cheerful. If you can make your request into a game, go for it!

A little organization goes a long way. A job chart is nothing more than nagging in writing. It communicates what’s expected without you having to say it. You’ll also have less verbal nagging to do if you make jobs a part of your family’s daily routine. At my friend Linda’s house, having their bed made is a prerequisite for getting breakfast. In our home the kids don’t get to play with friends or watch TV until their chores are done. There are times when they get sloppy in their duties or need reminding, but for the most part my kids complete all sorts of tasks every day without any reminders from me. (Having well-trained children is even better than having a well-trained dog.)

Think outside the box, or the chest of drawers, as the case may be. For a while I had a hard time getting Loula Belle to change her underwear every day. Each laundry day I’d tell her, “You only had three pairs of panties in the wash this week. That’s gross.” She didn’t seem to care. Eventually I left a note taped to her dresser that said, “Help! We’re suffocating in here! We’re your underwear, and we like to get out of this cramped drawer. Please wear a different one of us each day. We’d be so much happier. How about it? Help us get out and about!” It made Lou laugh and got my point across in a totally new way.

Gimmicks are good. Young kids like stickers. Older kids often go for cold, hard cash. Only you know what motivates your husband. If it works, do it.

I don’t have any studies to back me up, but I believe that mothers who are successful at nagging are happier than mothers who don’t nag at all. The non-naggers are the ones doing everything themselves, and that makes for lots of resentment.

Don’t become the grumpy cleaning lady. Embrace nagging. If you need to call it something else, borrow a term from my own mother. She calls it “spaced repetition.” I call it good communication.

Blanket for a new baby boy

I whipped this quilt up in less than a week from conception to finish. Most of my projects take much longer than that, but I put a rush on this one as my sister-in-law and her husband just barely adopted a newborn baby boy.

Welcome to the family little baby G!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

You're at Belly Acre Farm if . . .

You’re at Belly Acre Farm if . . .

You look in the dog run and instead of rawhide chews, the dog is gnawing on overgrown cucumbers.

You’ve spotted a house with green vines and blue flowers overtaking the front porch pillars.

Mom’s favorite song comes on the radio and she turns it WAY up and dances along.

Safety Man brings his noise dosimeter home and announces that Mom’s music is over 90 decibels.

There’s a practice net set up for your hubby and son to practice hitting golf balls into.

There are two different dents in the soffit of the back porch from errant Birdie Balls – golfesque practice orbs that your son mis-hit.

There’s a deep dent in the metal framing of the front door. It has golf ball dimples, courtesy of your son. (Note: He did receive the lecture entitled, “What if that had hit a window?”)

Two eight-year-old girls are out on the front lawn bouncing on giant soccer-style hippity-hops.

There are no more yellow summer squash in the garden. They’ve been ripped out and added to the compost pile. (At last!)

You see a white Buick pulling out of the driveway to deliver the latest round of raspberries to Hubby’s work – where they’ll be sold to his co-workers.

A dog looking like a Black Lab streaks across the back lawn towards the neighbor’s escaped chickens and you hear a frantic woman growling, “No! Annie come! Come!”

If the kids have their friends over for milk and cookies and Mother proceeds to try to teach them how to burp on demand. (This is after she’s made them promise not to tell their mothers where they learned their new-found skill.)

Fall is in the air and you hear a blood-curdling witch’s cackle. Never fear, it’s just me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Blackened Chicken (inedible)

I confess. I burned dinner on the grill. Thing is, it took days to actually ruin a meal like this.

First, I had to defrost the chicken in the fridge for 2 days. (I'm married to Safety Man. We don't ever defrost meat on the counter.) Next I marinated the meat for 24 hours in soy sauce, Sprite and a little canola oil. (It was supposed to be similar to the marinade they use on the turkey at the Manti Pageant feeds.) And last, but not least, the chicken needed to be grilled to perfection on the grill outside.

That's where I ran into trouble. My husband is the grillmeister at our house, but I thought I'd surpise him by having it cooked and ready to eat the moment he walked in the door from work. Instead, these are my instructions to duplicate my original recipe for Blackened Chicken:

Preheat grill on low.

Carefully arrange chicken tenderloins across grill being extra careful that they don't fall though and land directly on the flames. (Note: using 1/2 breasts would be better than chicken tenders -- it greatly reduces the chicken that falls through the grill.)

Next, set a timer for 5 minutes. Turn the chicken tenders after five minutes being careful to position faster cooking meat away from hot spots and replacing it with slower cooking meat. Return inside.

Forget to set timer for another 5 minutes. Get distracted by children wanting to download photos from your digital camera onto the new computer. Grit your teeth when the learning curve on downloading pictures seems overwhelming. Try not to get upset at kids who seem to know more about computers than you do. Finally, download pictures successfully. (This will take about 30 minutes.)

Enjoy a moment of computer bliss at finally having a computer that is compatible with the digital camera you've owned for 3+ years. Think about supper. Inhale sharply as you realize that the chicken has been out on the grill for over 30 minutes. Rush out and try to save it.

Give up all hopes of eating the Blackend Chicken as most pieces are burnt so badly that they're crispy and black all the way through.

Laugh at yourself. Encourage kids to laugh too. Carefully arrange Blackened Chicken on dinner plate with freshly cut parsley and slices of lemon. Take a photo to post to your blog so that everyone can enjoy a laugh at your Blackened Chicken recipe.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

What do I think about Weight Watchers?

In the last week I've had two different friends ask me what I think about Weight Watchers. Seeing as how I've lost 36 lbs. on their program and have been an active member for 18 months, I think I'm qualified to give my opinion.

I have loved weight watchers! I always told myself that whenever I got desperate enough to pay money to lose weight I'd go to Weight Watchers first. After joining I wish I hadn't waited so long. Their program is wonderful! After joining I felt like I was living the Word of Wisdom for real. More fruits and vegetable than I'd ever eaten. Oh, and whole grains too.

I think the two biggest things Weight Watchers has going for it is accountability and support. When you have to fork over funds, it really makes you committed. (WW has done experiments in the past and offered "scholarships" for qualifying dieters. But they found that people who didn't have to pay their own fees weren't successful at losing the weight.)

Weight watcher meetings are fabulous! It's good to hear that other people have my same struggles but are still committed to better health. When someone hits a big weight loss milestone (25 lbs., 50 lbs., etc.) it's fun to celebrate with them, and it motivates me to hang in there.

If you're a person who is burned out on keeping a food journal, you'd probably like the Core plan at WW. Instead of tracking, you eat from a list of core foods: fruits, veggies, whole grains (but not bread), non-fat dairy, and lean meats. Then you just listen to your hunger signals. That's the way my sister-in-law lost 30 lbs. and reached her goal weight.

About fixing family fare that's healthy . . . I'm afraid I don't have a magic bullet. My family doesn't always like the ultra-healthy stuff I fix, but they still try it. I like to serve something that I can eat, but also round out the meal with a couple things that I know my kids will eat -- like bread and fruit. Also, I try not to keep tempting sweets in the house, but sometimes I break down and buy cookies for the kids. Or my daughter makes homemade cookies. I've found that if I don't make the cookies I don't eat the dough and do better at resisting the baked product too.

I wish I could say that my weight loss journey has been smooth sailing, but it hasn't. I've been stuck at a plateau since this time last year. (I joined a gym in October of '06 and think that I've gained muscle mass. But the scale bounces up and down and averages the same old number.) My original goal weight with WW is at the top of their scale (150 lbs.). It's what I weighed when I got married and wore a size 7/8 -- it's about 18 lbs. less than what I've been stuck at. Because I'm also a walking hormone problem, just yesterday I had my doctor sign a new goal weight for me -- 168 lbs. Now I'm optimistic that I can FINALLY reach Lifetime status at WW. (Once you reach lifetime status you can go to meetings for free as long as you weigh in at least once a month are are within 2 lbs. of your goal weight.)

Lifetime members are successful 75% of the time at maintaining their weightloss. I want to be a part of that 75% statistic.

Another friend asked me if I have lots of new healthy recipes. I have a few new recipes, but for the most part I eat the same stuff, just less of it. (I've done the Flex point system at WW.) I often wonder if I could reach the WW goal weight of 150 lbs. by being more strict with my eating habits. But after trying to eat like that for less than a week I always come back to sane, simple, moderation. I don't want to lose weight by becoming a member of the food police or joining over-exercisers anonymous. Like everything else in life good health is a balancing act.

If ever I'm feeling a little frumpy, I like to really do my hair and make-up well, put on some loud earrings and give people a nice big, distracting smile. I figure that if I can keep them looking at my head, maybe they won't notice my hips! :) It seems to be working.

Quote of the day: "Never eat more than you can lift." -- Miss Piggy's Guide to Life